Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 and 808 were supposed to be the benchmarks for mobile computing this year and power a generous number of high end smartphones. Qualcomm entered a fray when the Snapdragon 810 started overheating incessantly and this caused a huge wave of dissatisfaction among the buyers. This time around, even Samsung strayed away from the Snapdragon 810 and instead stuck to its very own Exynos across all Galaxy S6 variants.
Unsurprisingly the technical fiasco of the Snapdragon 810 seems to have a pronounced effect on the companies financials. The “increased concentration” at the high end market might spell further trouble for the company as Apple controls a major chunk of the market. Qualcomm rakes in a better profit selling its high end SoCs, and iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus only use the Qualcomm modem. Although Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi are selling low end phones with Qualcomm processors, it is less beneficial for the company since the SoCs are less profitable as it tries to compete with Mediatek at this price range.
In a quick turn of events, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 820 which will be tagged with a new generation of Adreno 500 GPUs. To be more specific the Snapdragon 820 will ship with a Adreno 530 GPU while the 618 and the 620 will come with the Adreno 510. The company has not chalked out the exact performance figures but they have stated categorically that we can witness a 40 percent increase in the performance along with 40 percent increase in the efficiency as opposed to its predecessors.
Snapdragon 820 will support HDMI 2.0 standard which will render adequate bandwidth to connect external 4K displays set at 60 fps. The Spectra ISP in the Snapdragon 820 will be a boon for devices with dual camera setup, like the HTC One M8. The dual camera setup combines images from each camera and simulates an increased depth of field. The Spectra ISP will use the data from these sensor and simulate a standard optical zoom instead of standard digital zoom, this will not only render a greater degree of depth in the images but also helps in increasing the level of detailing.
Qualcomm in general promises improvised imaging capabilities and enhanced auto focusing. The HDR algorithms have been tweaked to reduce the noise levels in dark. That being said it still depends on how OEMs want to use the features and if they would be interested in going for the not-so-famous dual camera setup. The new chipset will be supporting low head rendering with Vulkan. The Vulkan is a open standard which has been built from scratch to minimize CPU overhead in the driver and allow multiple threads to perform work like command buffer construction in a single go. Vulkan offers a better control over the GPU as opposed to the OpenGL ES.
Considering the present status, Qualcomm won’t be shipping the Snapdragon 820 this year for sure, and we would expect to see the hardware setup only in next year’s devices. It would be interesting to see how Qualcomm will manage to bury the hatchet and overcome the heating problems thus achieving the stability offered by the earnest Snapdragon 801.